Film Review: Precious

Precious is almost unrelentingly sombre in the issues the film addresses. The lighter spots are saved for the title character’s daydreams, and the relationship she builds with her classmates and teacher. These lighthearted moments are not only what save the teenage protagonist, but also the film itself. Without these, Precious offers a grim tale of abuse and disadvantage.

Through her relationship with her teacher, nurse and friends, Precious finds the strength to overcome obstacles so afflicting they would extinguish a lesser soul. But don’t be under the misapprehension that this is a heart-warming tale; the seriousness of the abuse exposed makes for morose and sometimes uncomfortable viewing.

Newcomer Sidibe offers an earnest portrayal of the downtrodden youth; she is engaging and elicits befitting sympathy. Mo’Nique excels as abusive mother Mary; her recent Bafta success is well-deserved. In her small but notable role as the welfare advisor, Carey is believable and gives a credible performance, surprising considering her much-maligned previous cinematic foray in Glitter.

Daniels’ direction is focussed, concentrating firmly on the protagonist’s trials and tribulations. It is clear that this is a personal story, and not a social commentary. Production design and cinematography are solid; the grimy, dole apartment is suitably contrasted with Precious’ brightly-lit daydreams.

Whilst Precious is a story about overcoming adversity, its bleakness will not leave cinemagoers reaffirmed. That is not to say that the film takes on a preachy tone, however the continual torment faced by Precious does not make the film enjoyable either.

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